I like to open fights with a melee attack to get on the hate list, followed by a Sentinel > Rampart > Flash. Normally I'll get a second Flash off before Sentinel is down (unless I'm busy putting up shadows). Every time Sentinel is back up, I prefer to Sentinel > Rampart. Normally Rampart hits me, my co-tank, and the bard, but if we're fighting a dragon or similar mob it will hit my entire party. I know that I'm going to get at least double enmity on triple the people (so 1800 VE) from Rampart. Add this to 1800 from Sentinel and 2 x double enmity Flash (2560 x 2) and you have: 1800+1800+5120 = 8920 VE right off the bat (or more if I hit over 3 targets).
Honestly though OP, you can do 5/5 Sentinel and as long as the other 5 merits are used on SB and Rampart, they are good. How you divvy it up is more personal preference than anything. I'm happy with how I did it, but you should do it the way you think will work best for you.
Every time Flash is up, it's being cast (approximately every 22seconds), so in very short order I'm at the 10,000 mark from there. Shield Bash I save for emergencies (shadow timers are fried, back-row stun timers are down, big nuke turned the mob, etc). For such things, I'd love to have it on as short of a timer as possible, but uncoupling Sentinel and Rampart would be a real pain for me, and I don't expect emergencies to pop up that quickly. Even if they do, my co-tank also has Shield Bash so it would have to be a triple emergency in a 5min span to really be a problem, and the merits would only matter if they were the difference between bashing my way out of it or not (ie: if the 3rd emergency happened in the last 50 seconds of a 5 minute window). That seems like a serious stretch.
(If I'm soloing, it will be on another job typically so I'm only looking at uses for endgame tanking.)
As for tier II, the following quotes are from Kanican's LJ
* Nothing known in game affects the -60 VE/sec decay rate
* Burtgang "enmity reduced when taking damage" is -10% CE loss - still using the damage taken formula
Since I'm coupling Sentinel with Rampart, I literally am taking as close to 0 damage during that time as possible. Since the VE decay rate is not affected, this makes Guardian almost totally worthless for me, and is the reason I won't touch it. I'm therefore going 5/5 Chivalry, 5/5 Fealty. (I fight mobs for longer than 10 minutes.)
On Chivalry: Even though Atonement is amazing, there are plenty of mobs who take limited or zero damage from it either all of the time or some of the time. Examples of this include Armed Gears (25% Atonement cap), Tinnin (Atonement Immune), any Wyrm that is airborne, Proto-Omega (after Hate Reset), Proto-Ultima (after Hate Reset or with M-Shields up), any NM that can charm you (Hate Reset), any mob that can put up magic shields, etc... In other words, Atonement is amazing, but so is turning 300TP into 450MP (or whatever you happen to get back with yours). I can't imagine not capping this.
On Fealty: Here is a move that doesn't just prevent Paralyga's from landing on you, but it also makes you near-immune to Astral Flow, Mijin Gakure, Meteor! Consider how much enmity you lose if any one of those goes off. ****, consider how much you lose if a simple Charm goes off. I'm pretty happy being in a state of immunity or near immunity to such things, and I look forward to capping this so I can sit in that state a full 10% of the time. Sure, Fealty might amount to no more than a simple 300VE hate bump (600VE with Sentinel up), but what really matters is that when Fealty is good, it's REALLY F-ING GOOD! When Guardian is good, do you even notice? I co-tank with Guardian merited PLD's all the time (I have none), and there is no clear difference in how well we hold hate. Either they can't keep it off me until I take a hit, or we bounce the mob between us. I've never tanked with anyone I couldn't turn it off of when needed, and I've never noticed anyone's Sentinel doing more for their ability to hold the mob than mine does for me.
On Both: Don't forget that even if you only use each move once per battle, the 10 min timer can be great for situations such as KSNM99, where you don't exactly want to wait to start your next run because timers aren't up. Once per battle doesn't always translate to once per 20min, if you take my drift. Edited, Oct 14th 2009 5:39pm by NatePrawdzik